Face Protection: Getting it Right

Vision and respiratory protection are extremely important for workers of many different professions including construction and manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, landscaping, health care, and professional sports.  OSHA explains when eye and face PPE should be used as follows: "when workers are exposed to eye or face hazards such as flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially harmful light radiation."   If any of these situations are met, employers must provide adequate PPE for employees who are exposed to said situations.

As mentioned in our other blog  Respirator Fit Test vs. Seal Check: Is There a Difference? In order for someone to wear a respirator around the workplace, they must first make sure the respirator works for them.  There are two tests that must happen before ever wearing a respirator for the first time: a fit test and a seal check.  OSHA states that the training must be comprehensive, understandable, and recur annually, and more often if necessary and at a minimum, it should include: why the eye and face PPE is necessary, how improper fit, use or maintenance can compromise its protections, limitations and capabilities of the PPE, how to inspect, put on and remove, maintenance and storage, recognition of medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent effective use, and general requirements of OSHA's eye and face protection standard.  We realize that this particular training won't necessarily mean that everyone will follow the guidelines laid out within, but it has been proven that having some sort of training and recertification boosts the chances that employees will wear their PPE correctly, therefore preventing more occurrences.  Prevent Blindness has reported that there are thousands of eye injuries every day in the United States alone, and about 90 percent of those are fully preventable with the use of proper PPE.

When it comes to pesticides and other chemicals, OSHA states: "When selecting personal protective equipment (PPE) for yourself or your employees who are applying pesticides, the label on the pesticide is your main source of information," it states. "Unlike most other types of product labels, pesticide labels are legally enforceable. In other words, the label is the law! The Environmental Protection Agency controls labeling requirements for pesticide products. Manufacturers must provide personal protective equipment guidance for handlers to ensure their safety when mixing, loading, applying, or otherwise handling pesticides."  This document goes on to state that employees must use appropriate eye protection when the pesticide label specifies the following:  protective eyewear (use safety glasses with brow, front, and temple protection; a face shield; fully enclosed goggles; or a full-face respirator), goggles (use fully enclosed, chemical splash-resistant goggles or a full-face respirator), or full-face respirator (you must use a tight-fitting, full-face respirator).  ANSI Z87.1 states this, "Polycarbonate is lightweight and provides strong impact resistance and good chemical splash resistance. Wrap-around safety glasses are not acceptable for protection when spraying. Special goggles are made to wear over prescription glasses. Goggles must not interfere with the seal of a tight-fitting respirator. If you use a half-mask respirator, use goggles designed to fit over the nose-piece of your respirator."

You can read up on potential outcomes of not wearing proper PPE in our other post Inhalation Fever and the Lack of Proper PPE.  OSHA does not take safety lightly and neither should you or your employees!

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